The Golden Hour by William Nicholson

He’s got a winning formula, this writer, and he’s sticking to it. Set the action over seven days, in and…

The Thread by Victoria Hislop

Oh what a tangled web she weaves! Victoria Hislop’s third novel, the appropriately titled The Thread, is pleasingly complex. The…

Golden corn

Is Sebastian Barry writing tragedy, or melodrama?

Infuriating brilliance

A.L. Kennedy's prose makes you forget all her faults

Something happens to everyone

A quietly brilliant debut novel

A choice of first novels

As L.P. Hartley noted, the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. And no more so than during the two world wars, a fact that has provided a rich seam for several debut novelists to mine this summer.

Recent crime fiction

John Lawton’s Inspector Troy series constantly surprises.


The revised version

The narrator of Julian Barnes’s novella has failed disastrously to understand his first love. David Sexton admires this skilful story, but finds something missing

The man who came to dinner

Each year Genevieve Lee holds an ‘alternative’ dinner party, to which she invites, along with her friends, a couple of people she wouldn’t ordinarily mix with — a Muslim, say, or homosexual.

Chinese whispers

River of Smoke begins with the storm that struck the convict ship the Ibis at the end of Amitav Ghosh’s 2008 Man Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies.


Golden lads and girls

Sam Leith tracks the careers of Alan Hollinghurst’s captivating new characters through youthful exuberance to old age, dust and a literary afterlife

When more is less

If you know anything at all about Cynthia Ozick — an officially accredited grande dame in America, less famous in Britain — you won’t be surprised to hear that her new novel is influenced by Henry James.

Mumbai and Mammon

This is a state of the nation novel or more accurately a state of Mumbai novel.


Bookends: When will there be good news?

I am in love with Jackson Brodie. Does this mean that, in a literary homoerotic twist, I am actually in love with Kate Atkinson, his creator? I think it must. Sometimes I think I am Jackson Brodie. We share many traits: 50-odd, mid-life crisis, a lost (though in my case not murdered) sister. I know that it’s really Kate Atkinson who is Jackson Brodie. She must have a lost or murdered sister, mustn’t she?  

Those who die like cattle

An ex-farmer whose brother has died fighting in Iraq is the man at the centre of Graham Swift’s new book, a state-of-the-nation novel on a small canvas.

We are the past

Julie Myerson’s eighth novel is told by a woman who roams the City of London after an unspecified apocalypse (no power, bad weather).

Pearls before swine

The story of Harry the Valet is the stuff of fiction.

Victorian rough and tumble

Derby Day is meticulously plotted and written with bouncy confidence.


The way to dusty death

Beryl Bainbridge’s last novel is a haunting echo of her own final years, according to A. N. Wilson

Freudian slip

At Last is the fifth — and, it’s pretty safe to say, most eagerly awaited — of Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels.

Doomed to disillusion

The Forgotten Waltz is one of those densely recapitulative novels that seek to interpret emotional crack-up from the angle of its ground-down aftermath.


The world according to ants

The South American rain forest is the perfect environment for a dank, uncomfortable thriller.

Beastly behaviour

If the production team of The Archers ever needs a scriptwriter at short notice, they need look no further than Miranda France.


. . . or sensing impending doom

‘What am I? A completely ordinary person from the so-called higher reaches of society.

Random questions

British writers who set their first novels in America are apt to come horribly unstuck.